Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #111920  by Poor Peter
 Fri Mar 30, 2012 5:54 pm
Just wondering if anyone else has had a similar expierence. I have been in several GD cover bands over the years, but am currently in a band that does 90% of original material. I have been in this band since it's creation. I've moved on from playing Dead tunes and am very happy where I am at right now. WE are a jam band by all accounts, however I am the only member with any ties to the Dead. My problem is I am constantly being teased by other bandmates for sounding too much like Jerry. Ironically, I have either written or arranged 3/4th's of what we do, and it has been very well recieved the few times we have played out. So much so that a "friend" of the band is financing studio time for us because he is convinced that our stuff is that good. I'm not patting myself on the back. These guys are all very talented musicians and it takes all of us to create our sound. But how do I shut these guys up? I am tired of hearing "that sounds like the dead, or that sounds like Jerry" I can't help sounding like that. Its what I am, or what I've become. My sound is essential to the overall sound and there would be no band w/o me. Can anyone relate?
 #111927  by Jimaroe
 Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:33 pm
No, I cannot relate. Yes, I'd love to have that "problem". I'd say, congrats. Give us hacks ( referring only to myself here) a taste, and post a clip.
 #111930  by hippieguy1954
 Sat Mar 31, 2012 3:02 am
LOL....Man I know how you feel! I never thought about mentioning it here. What a GREAT topic!

That is soooooooooo true for me too. People have been telling me that for years! "No matter what you play, it sounds like Garcia" or "you sound like Garcia doing a cover”. Of course there is always the one who says "well kinda like Garcia just not as good". :roll:

I say "so what, good, thank you for the compliment, that's how I play”!

I acquired Jerry's style 30 to 35 yrs ago. Like you said, it's in me and part of me. There are other influences as well but they don't show through as much. I talk about this a lot with the musicians I jam with. Most of which are not Dead heads like me, although I constantly try to convert them.

It has actually (over the years) caused some not to want to jam with me lol, but that never bothered me because I figure if they don’t like my Jerry style, I don’t want to waste a lot of time with them either!

The guys I jam with now are very accepting, thank goodness!

The other thing about it is when I do solo acoustic; I also work a little Phil into my playing too, because I’m subconsciously trying to do the whole band myself.

Once you have many years of emulating a style, it does become part of you and you’re playing!

Glad I’m not the only one! Had a feeling I wasn't! :smile: :smile: :smile:
 #111954  by Poor Peter
 Sat Mar 31, 2012 2:28 pm
Glad to know I'm not alone. We all have our influences...I guess when yours is someone as unique as Jerry it tends to stand out. We played a show last night and I heard alot of positive feedback form people in the crowd. Two guys even wanted to know if I gave lessons. So it's all good....
 #111977  by Pete B.
 Sun Apr 01, 2012 11:04 am
Poor Peter wrote:...But how do I shut these guys up? I am tired of hearing "that sounds like the dead, or that sounds like Jerry" I can't help sounding like that....
Here's what I would say at the next band get-together...

"So guys... Here's the deal.
We are taking the next step... going into the studio.
It's being financed by my buddie, and as you know, I have put a ton of effort into the song writing and arrangements.
Now here's the "Stricktly Business" moment I need to share with you all...
I need to know who is truely "in" for the long term, beyond this studio project, because, going forward from this conversation, I don't ever want hear this "I sound too much like Jerry Garcia, or, it sounds too much like the Dead" bull-shit ever again.
That has to end right here and now.
If this is a sticking point for you, please speak up right now, and we'll start looking for your replacement, no hard feelers.
O.K., So... Who's in and who's out?"
 #111979  by JonnyBoy
 Sun Apr 01, 2012 11:13 am
wolftigerrosebud wrote:yeah i've heard that shit. but i also hear that i look like david bowie on the ziggy stardust tour, and i feel that evens it out.

LMFAO :lol:

Tell your buds that the Dead and Jerry's playing created the largest mega musical empire known to man. No one is really emulating him thouroughly in the original jam band scene today, and most musicians that do have a good portion of themselves mixed in. Jam band listeners LOVE jerry's style for the most part. Keep on playing, tell them to write some songs and they can have the say on how its played. Its like playing in a blues band and someone saying you play too much like SRV. Thats just silly.

+1 with last post!
 #111994  by mgbills
 Sun Apr 01, 2012 12:23 pm
Love it. Started hearing it from my son. "the longer we play together the more you sound like him.". Cool! I study weekly with a pro jazz guy. He says "you gotta sing those solos with your guitar, and I keep hearing Garcia.". Hehe. Wow. Thanks. I got years to go. I've certainly heard things I like less about myself.

Glad they don't say I sound like Joey Ramone!
 #112031  by tcsned
 Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:04 am
mgbills wrote: Glad they don't say I sound like Joey Ramone!
lol - I love The Ramones but not necessarily the greatest finesse player out there :cool:

I have kind of the opposite issue. I was learning to play before I got turned on to the Dead. I was into Allmans, Zeppelin, The Who, Dire Straits and such. I can't help but use what I learned playing that stuff. Most non-players don't notice or care but I've had some folks say stuff about too much hammer-on stuff for Jerry, or too hard rockish, or whatever. But for me it's not really a conscious thing - I do my best to let go of over thinking things. In any musical situation I aim to use a Dead-like approach but don't think "how would Jerry do this?" if that makes sense.
 #112100  by wolftigerrosebud
 Tue Apr 03, 2012 1:45 pm
I had a thought about this question earlier. One way you could shut your bandmates up is by learning to play in another style and trying to perfect it and incorporate it into your improvisation and songwriting.

After all, one of the things that made Jerry so great was that he immersed himself in all different kinds of styles. And that's why some Jerry-centric players end up just sounding like derivatives of Jerry instead of sounding like a player of Jerry's experience and caliber who also loves his playing: they've not spent extensive time playing bluegrass, blues, country, jazz, folk, and 50s rock 'n roll like Jerry did (not a criticism of those who sound Jerry-derived; I'm one of those guys. This is actually one of the things I'm trying to stretch myself out of now by playing more Latin styles of music as well as learning bebop and jazz comping).

Instead of telling your bandmates "if you don't like it you can fucking leave", you could take what they're saying to heart and make a goodwill effort on your part to stretch yourself musically. You might open up and ask them about what they were thinking, or if they could think more specifically about what they think your playing would benefit from. You'd be a better musician for it, and I imagine it would improve the openness and trust between you and your friends as well. It's just something to consider.
 #112107  by tigerstrat
 Tue Apr 03, 2012 4:48 pm
No, I do not. Nobody does.
 #112114  by foolofships
 Tue Apr 03, 2012 7:58 pm
I recently heard that I sounded like Jerry from the frontman of my band--thankfully, not "too much" like Jerry. I think this is odd because I stopped trying to sound like particular guitar players a long time ago, before I started listening to the Grateful Dead. Even when I listen to the Dead, I pay way more attention to Bobby and Phil.

At the DSO show the other night, I had an idea that playing Grateful Dead music--or any kind of music, really--is like speaking a language. There are rhythms, idioms, themes, cadences, and tropes that go with a given style of music that serve to not only distinguish it from other kinds of music, but also act as signposts to those who can follow the musical dialog. There is a definite syntax and grammar involved, and using it gives a player a particular "accent." While one can imagine a certain accent sounding out of place in a given context, to me it's just interesting.

Think about how Jerry sounded, versus how Mark Karan, or John Kadlacik, or Jeff Mattson sound, versus how Jimmy Herring or Warren Haynes sound. There's lots of variation in how a musician can "speak" this particular language and still have it work very well. Similarly, if you're playing in a musical context where Grateful Dead-isms don't work as well, you might have to do more listening in order to have a coherent musical conversation.
 #112124  by gr8fullfred
 Wed Apr 04, 2012 6:36 am
If someone told me that I sounded "too much like Jerry", I would have to say to them "thanks I have been working on it". Has not happened yet,but I am looking forward to it. More realistically, I think of Jerry serving up a "Jerry lasagna", I try to add some of the same ingredients, but it cooks up a little different.
 #112130  by wolftigerrosebud
 Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:58 am
I think there's a meaningful distinction between perspectives here. The OP wasn't describing his bandmates as people who have been trying for years to nail Jerry's sound. They've presumably listened to the Dead enough to be able to recognize the Jerry-ishness of what he's playing (also because they're a jam band and it's hard to be a jam band without liking the mother of all jam bands), but they're presumably looking at it with a different scope. Instead of "Great Jerry Players vs. Alright Jerry Players" they could be looking at it as "Jerry-like Sounds vs. All Other Music/Musicians."

The way I understood the OP's statement was that it's not so much that he's got Jerry's sound just exactly perfect, but rather that Jerry-esque sounds pop up frequently throughout all the music he plays, and that the band is poking fun at him for the consistency with which they do. That's just my best guess, as it seems like having one or a handful of Jerry-ish songs or songs in which a Grateful Dead-like improvisational style is used would not draw teasing from band mates. It seems a logical conclusion that the OP plays a good deal of his stuff like Jerry, or that Jerry runs have been incorporated into his style.

This is seen through the lens of my own experience, though. I struggle with too much of what I play being Jerry-derived. It's not that I sound too much like Jerry; it's that too much of the pseudo-Jerry comes out in my playing. I feel like it's a crutch for me at this point, since I don't really want to sound closer to Jerry, but also don't particularly want to play most other styles of rock 'n roll. I mean, it sucks going from Jerry to Keith Richards. I find little other rock guitar playing is satisfying in the same way that Jerry's is. Spoiled by it, basically.

I think what we listen to effects what we play. I listen to the Dead constantly, for hours on end, day-in and day-out, so my playing has many moments that are reminiscent of Jerry. When I listen to Tom Verlaine all the time, I sound more like Tom Verlaine. Pat Metheny's on a lot, I start playing in his style. I don't really realize that I do it; it just happens.

Perhaps you should make a conscious effort to not listen to the Dead or any Jerry music at all for a couple weeks, OP. To take it a step further, maybe not listening to any music at all for a couple weeks and using that time to focus intensely on your own playing would benefit you and give you a fresh perspective. It's conceivable that it might allow you to be more unbound by the lenses put in place by outside music that shape the way you play.